Rhetoric is not research

June 26, 2008

Shoddy perpetuation of presupposition and prejudice is passed off as "research" in the report of the forthcoming book by Dennis Hayes and Kathryn Ecclestone ("'Infantilised' students and staff rapped", 12 June).

Their straw-man concept of "therapeutic education" is berated as viewing "emotional skills associated with learning as more important than subject content". Yet they eschew the need to familiarise themselves with the findings from empirically grounded research into workplace issues (Cary Cooper, Helge Hoel, Stole Einarssen, Michael Sheehan, Duncan Lewis and Charlotte Rayner are just the tip of the iceberg) in favour of their emotional tirade of unsubstantiated vitriol against staff and students whom they disparage with childish epithets - "can't cope" lecturers, "infantilised" students and "diminished" managers in a "therapeutic education" culture. Playground rhetoric is no substitute for the "objective intellectual inquiry" they complain is lacking in universities.

Perhaps we can attribute this appallingly slipshod work to the pressure on these overstretched and stressed-out staff to publish and meet research assessment targets. Oh, no we can't - their "research" tells us that such stress doesn't exist.

David Hinton, Chair, Dignity At Work Now.

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